|Judicial opinions & aggregates for official decisions (O.S-Federal)|
In law, a concurring opinion is a written opinion by one or more judges of a court which agrees with the decision made by the majority of the court, but states different (or additional) reasons for the decision. It may also be used to add comments. When no absolute majority of the court can agree on the basis for deciding the case, the decision of the court may be contained in a number of concurring opinions. The concurring opinion joined by the greatest number of judges is called the plurality opinion.
Having failed to receive a majority of the court's votes, concurring opinions are not binding precedent (common law) and cannot be cited as such. But concurring opinions can sometimes be cited as a form of persuasive precedent (assuming there is no binding precedent already in effect). The conflict in views between a majority opinion and a concurring opinion can assist a lawyer in understanding the points of law in the majority opinion. Occasionally, a judge will use a concurring opinion to signal that he or she is open to certain types of "test cases" that would allow the development of a new legal rule. In turn, such a concurring opinion may become more famous than the majority opinion in the same case. A well-known example of this phenomenon is Escola v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. (1944).
Concurring opinions by region[change | change source]
In some courts, such as the Supreme Court of the United States, the majority opinion may be broken down into numbered or lettered parts. Concurring justices may state that they join some parts of the majority opinion, but not others, for the reasons given in their concurring opinion.[a] In other courts, such as the Supreme Court of California, the same justice may write a majority opinion and a separate concurring opinion to express additional reasons in support of the judgment[b]
Terminology at the various courts[change | change source]
- At the International Court of Justice, the term "separate opinion" is used and judges can also add declarations to the judgment.
- The term concurring opinion is used at the Supreme Court of the United States.
- The European Court of Human Rights uses the term concurring opinion and calls both concurring and dissenting opinions separate opinions. Judges very rarely add declarations to the judgment.
- The Law Lords of the United Kingdom give each an opinion of their own. No aggregated judgment is provided.
- In some jurisdictions (e.g., California), the term may be abbreviated in certain contexts to conc. opn.
Notes[change | change source]
- See, e.g., McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003).
- See, e.g., Cheong v. Antablin, 16 Cal. 4th 1063 (1997). Justice Ming Chin's concurrence began with these words: "Obviously, I concur in the majority opinion I have authored. I write separately to state another reason to reject plaintiff's argument."
References[change | change source]
- "Concurring Opinion Law & Legal Definition". USLegal, Inc. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
- "Cheong v. Antablin". FindLaw. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
- According to Professor Frédéric Rolin, ECHR judges added declarations in only two cases: Papon v. France (25 July 2002) and Martinie v. France (12 April 2006) ("Note sous CEDH 12 avril 2006, Martinie c/ France", 18 April 2006 Archived 7 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine)